This page lists the best blogging tools and most helpful resources we've discovered during our blogging journey, because the one thing that frustrated us most when we began blogging was not knowing where to go for help — or even where to start.
We do NOT want you to feel those same frustrations, so we've listed our favorite resources in one convenient location so you won't have to hunt them down for yourself.
Each of these links is to a product we currently use, love, and consider essential to blogging. We never recommend products anywhere on our site unless we absolutely 100% love them.
The majority of these products are also FREE. Many offer paid upgrades to unlock additional features, and we've indicated that with a [FREE +] sign or we've included the upgrade price next to the name.
This is an ever-evolving list, and we'll include new services as we add them to the rotation.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, we may receive a small referral fee at no cost to you. Read our disclosure policy here. We donate 25% of our “click money” proceeds to charitable organizations.
The Best Organizational Resources for Bloggers:
Asana (FREE +): This is the best project management tool we've discovered. We enter blog topics into our calendar and set the due dates, then Asana emails us reminders as those dates near. It's very easy to add multiple users and assign tasks. We credit Elle & Co. for introducing us to Asana via this handy video, which we recommend you watch, too! [We use the free version.]
Favorite Feature: Flying unicorns. Really. Whenever you mark a task as completed, a colorful celebratory uniform flies across your screen to make you feel all magical.
The Best Free Stock Photography Sites for Bloggers:
Unsplash (FREE): Lots of high-definition nature, lifestyle, and food photos. All are free for download and can be used anywhere! Very high quality shots, no copyright restrictions.
Picnoi (FREE): We're huge fans of this site for the images showing diversity and multi-racial families. All photos are free for download and don't have any copyright restrictions.
Minimography (FREE): If you're in need of minimalistic imagery of computers, work environments, and nature shots — Minimography is the place for you. Free images, no copyright restrictions.
Death to Stock (FREE): Subscribe to have free stock photos emailed directly to your inbox. If you're a writer, they'll send writing prompts along with the photos.
The Best Social Media Resources for Bloggers:
Tailwind (FREE +): We use Tailwind to schedule our pins. We love it because it makes our Pinterest account appear active even when we're out having fun! Tailwind posts pins (that we've selected) onto our Pinterest boards at optimal times to provide the best exposure. You have the option to set intervals so pins are posted hours or even days apart and can post a single image to multiple boards with the click of a button.
We have 25+ boards in a variety of topics, more than 12k followers, and a reach over well over 1 million on Pinterest…so Tailwind is an essential marketing tool for us. We suggest you begin with the free trial to schedule up to 100 pins, then upgrade to pro if you love it.
If you use our link to sign up for the pro plan, we'll each receive a $15 credit. [We use the paid version.]
Favorite Feature: “Tailwind Tribes” is a huge secret tool bloggers use to promote one another's pins. Select a tribe of fellow bloggers in your niche, then post a pin to your tribe. Once you do, it's as if all of your blogging friends will see a giant marquee sign saying “PIN ME!” and they'll share your pin with all of their thousands of followers. Your reach increases exponentially with tribes. The best news? The tribes feature is currently available on the free Tailwind account.
CoSchedule ($15/mo+): Read our in-depth review of CoSchedule to discover why we think it's worth it to pay the monthly fee for this blogging tool. A few highlights include the drag-and-drop calendar and the ReQueue feature to promote our most popular social media posts. [We use the paid version.]
Favorite Feature: The headline analyzer is unbelievably helpful, especially if you struggle with creating attention-grabbing headlines. The “best time” Instagram scheduling feature is also a huge plus.
[Side note: Hootsuite is an alternative option to CoSchedule. I (Erin) use it in my day job as a marketing manager.]
Buffer (FREE +): Do you surf the web late at night (as we do) and find awesome content, but then bookmark it for later because you know no one is awake to see your share? If so, use Buffer to schedule those posts to Facebook or Twitter at a time you designate.
Buffer is an alternate to Hootsuite, but it's worth a mention here because Buffer works well with Facebook and many people are already familiar with it. [We use the free version. ]
The Best Email & List Building Resources for Bloggers:
MailerLite (FREE +): MailerLite is a great way to stay in touch with readers via email. Send emails for free up to 1,000 subscribers. After that, you'll have to upgrade to a paid plan, but it's inexpensive. [We use the free version.]
If you sign up for a paid plan and use our affiliate link, we'll each receive a $30 credit! Score!
Hello Bar (FREE +): Install Hello Bar and help convert visitors to your blog into subscribers. You can see a sample of the Hello Bar on our home page — it's the pink bar across the top. It's an additional way to capture new visitors and it works really, really well.
While we do have people sign up for our email list via our email subscribe button, the Hello Bar has captured an additional 235 email addresses since we installed it 3 months ago (*and many more since this post was first written).
There are free and paid options, but the free one is very robust and all you need to start. [We use the free version.]
If you sign up using our affiliate link, we'll both receive a FREE month of the pro account so we can test that out then we'll update this post with our discoveries.
Favorite Feature: Aside from being extremely easy to use for email, you can also use it to direct readers to follow you on Pinterest — or wherever else you're trying to grow your following.
Nice results from a free add-on!
Unroll.me (FREE): Once your business or personal email account gets out of control, it's difficult to reign it back in. Unroll.me will display a list of all your email subscriptions on one handy page, and you can simply click on the ones you no longer want. The app will handle unsubscribing you from there.
Favorite feature: This app makes cleaning your inbox a breeze. In less than a minute, you can unsubscribe from hundreds of annoying emails clogging your inbox!!
The Best Developer Resources for Bloggers:
Nothing drives us crazier than technology problems! Seriously. You don't want to be anywhere near our house when something goes wrong with the website, because we turn into major grumpballs.
Securi (FREE+): If you ever suspect your site's been hacked, use Securi's free sitechecker to run a free scan for malware, website errors, out-of-date software, and blacklisting status. (If you visit a site and suspect it may be hacked, you can also check it via Securi.)
From troubleshooting, to coding tweaks, to a complete overhaul to improve your site's performance — these guys rock! They know Wordpress inside-and-out and fix problems fast. You pay by the job and can bid jobs out to multiple developers.
The specific developer that we use and highly recommend is named Justin Frydman. Use our affiliate link to receive a discount when you book your first job!
Favorite feature: Of all the resources listed on this page, Codeable may be the most valuable. You can seriously harm your own website if you make one wrong adjustment to the coding on the back end, so it's best to leave that to the professionals.
The Best Hosting Companies for Bloggers:
WP Engine ($29/mo +): This is the current host company we use. We started out with Bluehost, but once our site reached a certain number of posts and started receiving higher traffic, we made the switch to WP Engine. (Also, Bluehost is terrible for too many reasons to list here. Save yourself the trouble and avoid them.)
WP Engine has built-in security so we don't have to worry about paying for separate site protection plans, and their customer service is legendary. Type a question into their help bar and speak with a live service specialist in under 5 minutes on average — day or night.
They also make backups a breeze with click-of-a-button site backup and provide a free staging site so you can test changes privately on the back-end. WP Engine has been the biggest lifesaver for us as far as keeping our website online and avoiding hackers.
Favorite feature: If you're on a different host and want to switch to WP Engine, you're going to love us for this tip: The WP Engine Automated Migration plugin makes switching a breeze!! No need to hire a developer or spend hours doing it yourself when they take care of everything for you. You can even leave your site running and preview the migrated version before going live to ease all worries.
**SALE ALERT** To celebrate their 7th anniversary, WP Engine is having a sale where you get 3 months FREE on any annual plan. That's a HUGE sale!!! You always have a risk free 60 day period to test their product out, too, so you can't lose with this deal.
Also, there's this for those of you who would like to become an affiliate:
The Best Design Resources for Bloggers:
Canva (FREE): If you aren't a graphic designer and/or don't want to deal with the steep learning curve of Adobe products, Canva is a great way to create eye-catching graphics easily and professionally. It's free and offers lots of great fonts and photos. We also use Canva to create many of our pinnable images.
Adobe Creative Suite (FREE TRIALS then $9.99/mo +): Photoshop has somewhat of a steep learning curve, but if you're willing to take the time to learn it, it's one of the most powerful tools in Adobe's lineup of already stellar products. We use it for editing and resizing photos, adding titles to pinnable images, and for creating ebooks. You can get a free trial to test out Adobe Cloud. Students and teachers receive discounts on Adobe products!
Jessica Molina Design (rates vary): Our logo was created by two designers (which isn't the norm). Typically you'd have just one designer create the entire image, but we loved Renee's hand lettering style at PixelPolish and commissioned her to do the lettering portion. Jessica, from Jessica Molina Design, created the cute girl with the messy bun and then assembled the logo. Jessica also does graphic design work, collateral, and hand lettering. You can view her shop on Society6 here. (How cute is her “Put it on Instagram” phone case?!)
Fiverr ($5 +): For those of you who are newbies with limited budgets, you can have logos created starting as low as $5/bid at Fiverr. You'll get a pretty basic design for that fee, but sometimes that's all you need!
Genesis Theme from StudioPress ($59.95): First things first, you need a good foundation. The foundation of our blog's design runs on the Genesis theme. It's a responsive theme that is SEO-friendly. Genesis is often referred to as the “gold standard” for themes and we love that keeps things running perfectly behind the scenes.
Restored 316 Designs ($50 +): Once you have a good foundation, you need to design a beautiful blog! We use child themes to create the pretty packaging on our website. We're running the “Simply Charming Theme“ as our child theme and love it! Simply Charming allows for fun customizations.
Favorite feature: It's not so much a feature as it is something that deserves a mention, but the ladies who run the Restored 316 site are fantastic. They really stand behind their product and offer great customer support. Be sure to sign up for their email list to get discounts on themes!
*The pinnable image for this post was created using Canva, Adobe Photoshop, and a free photo from Unsplash.
The Best SEO & Site Statistics Resources for Bloggers:
Google Analytics & Google Analytics Keyword Planner (FREE): Every blogger should have Google Analytics installed on their site! It tells you who is visiting your site, how they arrived, and what they're clicking on. It allows you get to know your reader and demographics better. If you plan to monetize your blog, many sponsors will request your analytics so it's best to set it up right from the start.
YOAST SEO (FREE): This is hands down the best SEO plugin on the market. Yoast is such a robust tool and it helps us to rank high in organic searches even without an extensive knowledge of SEO.
Jaaxy (FREE+): This tool is another must have and we do mean MUST HAVE. We need to write an entire post centered around its awesomeness, so stay tuned for that. Although Google Analytics' Keyword Planner is good for locating ideas for keywords, it's designed for advertisers. (Or for bloggers interested in implementing Google Adsense ads.) It's NOT designed to help bloggers who want to rank high in google searches. Jaaxy focuses on helping content creators (that's you! and us!) rank high in Google searches for specific key words and phrases.
Favorite features: There are too many to count. Jaaxy lists the number of websites competing for specific keywords. It ranks each keyword from 0 – 100 and color codes terms from red to green so you can easily see which ones are best. Jaaxy tells EXACTLY which terms people are searching for so you can get your target audience to your blog. It also has a brainstorm feature to help you find new keywords if you tend to target similar ones frequently.
Start out with your free trial of Jaaxy right here, then thank us later when your posts begin ranking on page 1 & 2 of Google searches!
The Top Affiliate Programs for Bloggers:
If you plan to monetize your blog, we suggest starting out with the following beginner-friendly affiliate programs:
Amazon Affiliates (FREE): Amazon is one of the best and easiest ways for a new blogger to begin earning money online. The interface is easy to use and they'll deposit directly into your bank account when you earn as little as $10!
Rakuten (FREE): Rakuten Linkshare is the #1 affiliate site and one you'll want to join asap if you plan to share products from Nordstrom, Macy's, AT&T, or any number of other giant retailers. You'll receive your first check once you've earned $50 with Rakuten!
ShareASale (FREE): Just like Rakuten, it's best to join the program if you plan to link to any number of major national retailers! Their clients include giants such as the NBA and NFL clothing retailers, in addition to stationary companies like Minted and Tiny Prints.
Helpful Teaching Sites for Bloggers:
Melyssa Griffin (FREE): Got a question about anything blog related? Melyssa probably has the answer. She's been blogging for years and writes very detailed posts explaining how to solve your biggest blogging issues. She also started a very helpful Facebook group where beginning and advanced bloggers go to help one another.
Elle & Co. (FREE): Want to turn your blog into a business? You'll find great tips here about transitioning from a hobby to a career. Be sure to tune in for the weekly “Ellechat” series of helpful webinars!
We'll keep adding to this list as we include new “best blogging tools” in our arsenal. Feel free to ask questions or advice about any of the ones we've listed in the comments section! Happy blogging. 🙂
**This list is current as of May 2017.